To dress: To beat. I'll dress his hide neatly; I'll beat him soundly.


There are some rules, which, being based on first principles, are of universal application. And one of these belongs to our present subject, viz: nothing can be truly beautiful which is not appropriate. Nature and the fine arts teach us this. All styles of dress, therefore, which impede the motions of the wearer—which do not sufficiently protect the person—which add unnecessarily to the heat of summer, or to the cold of winter—which do not suit the age or occupations of the wearer, or which indicate an expenditure unsuited to her means, are inappropriate, and, therefore, destitute of one of the essential elements of beauty. Propriety, or fitness, lies at the foundation of all good taste in dressing; and to this test should be brought a variety of particulars, too numerous to be mentioned, but which may be thus illustrated: The dress that would be very proper on occasion of a morning visit in a city, would be so out of place, if worn by the same person when making preserves or pastry, or when scrambling through the bushes in a country walk, that it would cease to look well. A simple calico gown and white apron would be so much more convenient and suitable, that the wearer would actually look better in them.

Some persons, also, toil early and late, and strain every nerve to procure an expensive garment, and think that once arrayed in it, they shall look as well as some richer neighbor, whose style of dress they wish to imitate. But they forget that, if it does not accord with their general style of living—if it is out of harmony with other things, it will so strike every body; and this want of fitness will prevent its looking well on them.

Let a true sense of propriety of the fitness of things regulate all your habits of living and dressing, and it will produce such a beautiful harmony and consistency of character, as to throw a charm around you that all may feel, though few may comprehend. Always consider well whether the articles of dress which you wish to purchase are suited to your age—your condition—your means—to the climate—to the particular use to which you mean to put them; and then let the principles of good taste keep you from the extremes of fashion; and regulate the form so as to combine utility and beauty, while the known rules of harmony in colors save you from shocking the eye of the artist by incongruous mixtures.

The character is much more shown in the style of dress that is worn every day, than in that which is designed for great occasions; and when I see a young girl come down to the family breakfast in an untidy wrapper, with her hair in papers, her feet slip-shod, and an old silk handkerchief round her neck, I know that she cannot be the neat, industrious, and refined person whom I should like for an inmate. I feel equally certain, too, that her chamber is not kept in neat order, and that she does not set a proper value upon time. However well a lady has appeared at a party, I would recommend to a young gentleman—before he makes up his mind as to her domestic qualities—to observe her appearance at the breakfast-table, when she expects to see only her own family; and, if it be such as I have just described, to beware how he prosecutes the acquaintance.

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